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Posts Tagged ‘Rahm Emanuel’s Role’

Rahm Emanuel talked with governor’s office about who should fill Obama’s Senate seat

Chief of staff for Obama had list of names

Tribune staff report

Rahm Emanuel, President-elect Barack Obama‘s pick to be White House chief of staff, had conversations with Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration about who would replace Obama in the U.S. Senate, the Tribune has learned.

The revelation does not suggest Obama’s new gatekeeper was involved in any talk of dealmaking involving the seat. But it does help fill in the gaps surrounding a question that Obama was unable or unwilling to answer this week: Did anyone on his staff have contact with Blagojevich about his choice for the Senate seat?

Blagojevich and John Harris, his former chief of staff, face federal charges in an alleged shakedown involving the vacant Senate seat, which Illinois law grants the governor sole authority to fill.

Obama said Thursday he had never spoken to Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy and was “confident that no representatives” of his had engaged in any dealmaking over the seat with the governor or his team. He also pledged Thursday that in the “next few days” he would explain what contacts his staff may have had with the governor’s office about the Senate vacancy.

Emanuel, who has long been close to both Blagojevich and Obama, has refused to respond to questions about any involvement he may have had with the Blagojevich camp over the Senate pick. A spokeswoman for Emanuel also declined to comment Friday.

One source confirmed that communications between Emanuel and the Blagojevich administration were captured on court-approved wiretaps.

Another source said that contact between the Obama camp and the governor’s administration regarding the Senate seat began the Saturday before the Nov. 4 election, when Emanuel made a call to the cell phone of Harris. The conversation took place around the same time press reports surfaced about Emanuel being approached about taking the high-level White House post should Obama win.

Emanuel delivered a list of candidates who would be “acceptable” to Obama, the source said. On the list were Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Illinois Veterans Affairs director Tammy Duckworth, state Comptroller Dan Hynes and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Chicago, the source said. All are Democrats.

Sometime after the election, Emanuel called Harris back to add the name of Democratic Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan to the approved list, the source said.

(more…)

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